Dairy Council of California program receives high marks from teachers & students


Nutrition education program teaches children to make healthy food choices

Sacramento, CA December 1, 2004 Healthy Choices, Healthy Me!, a first and second grade nutrition education program that reinforces language arts and math while teaching health in an innovative way, has received exceptionally positive marks in a formative evaluation by WestEd. Developed by the Dairy Council of California, the program is available free of charge to all teachers in California.

"We are pleased to see that our programs have such a positive effect on students' eating patterns," said Peggy Biltz, CEO, Dairy Council of California. "We are dedicated to providing high quality nutrition education programs that are fun for students to learn and simple for teachers to instruct."

The second grade program revolves around an original story, The Market Mystery which takes a brother and sister to different farms and ranches and explains to them where their food comes from, how it gets to the supermarket, and how these foods help them grow strong and healthy. Both first and second grade programs are available in English and Spanish and include student workbooks, a teacher's guide, a food guide pyramid poster, multicultural food pictures, and The Market Mystery storybook. The program also extends the healthy eating lessons that children are learning beyond school by providing a parent letter that is sent home with each of the students. The program aligns with California and National Education Standards and meets core curriculum requirements for math, science, writing, and health. Students gain knowledge about healthy eating using critical thinking, problem-solving, and character- building skills.

To determine the program's effectiveness, a formative evaluation was conducted during the 2003-2004 school year by WestEd with approximately 400 California first and second grade students from 30 classrooms participating. The first grade results were very promising with the percentage of first grade students classifying foods into the correct groups improving between pre and post test. In addition, among the first graders who reported eating breakfast the day of the survey, the consumption of each of the five food groups increased.

Results from the second grade evaluations showed that after completing the Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! program, students greatly improved their knowledge of classifying foods into food groups and retained this knowledge up to two months later. In addition, knowledge in regards to the function of foods on the body improved significantly among second graders with 71% knowing that milk builds strong bones two months after completing the curriculum compared with only 36% answering the question correctly beforehand. Students also could better identify a balanced meal and improved their self-reported eating habits by eating more food group foods.

Teachers participating in the evaluation applauded Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! for its dedication to teaching variety within the food groups and providing supporting teacher materials. Teachers also found that the program was easy and fun to teach because their students were enthused about the lessons. The majority of teachers were highly satisfied with the program components and outcomes, and plan to use it again.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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